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Research - Flaming Effects on Weed Seeds

In this project we aim to test the hypothesis that fall flaming can efficiently and effectively kill weed seeds on the soil surface.  While flaming is widely used to kill small weed seedlings, and field stubble burning is known to kill weed seeds, we are not aware of any research in which flaming has been used to target seeds.  This idea comes from the experience of Rob Johanson, a diversified organic farmer in Maine who, while flaming potato vines in particularly weedy fields observed smoldering weed residues and reasoned that he was likely killing weed seeds. He has further observed that flamed plots generally have lower weed pressure the following year.  We aim to confirm this observation with a series of on-farm experiments evaluating three flame doses and their effect on the following season’s germinable weed seedbank and early-season weed seedling densities.

Fall Flaming: Targeting weed seeds before they enter the seedbank

Two mustard seeds post flamin

A side-by-side comparison of a mustard seed that survived a flame treatment to germinate (left) and one that did not (right).

This project is supported by a NE SARE Partnership Grant:  “ONE11-141″

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